Typically known in Southern California for hosting the Los Angeles County Fair, the Pomona Fairplex will now house unaccompanied minors from Guatemala and El Salvador that are currently being held in Texas, Arizona and San Diego County.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis worked with the Biden Administration to arrange for the emergency intake site once the President announced that he would work to take the children out of the care and custody of border patrol and place them into the care of Health and Human Services.
Solis tells "Inside the Issues" she wanted something that could be friendly, safe and would keep the children out of the public eye. She says workers at the site are welcoming the children with open arms.
“The thing that I like the most is that the staff there have really prepared it to be a warm and inviting place,” she said.
Children are being bused in at different hours of the day and while being processed are given food, water and games to play.
“Once that process happens, they are given an assignment on where they will be sleeping, and they will be given a shower and clothing right away. And a meal — a meal — because some of these children have been traveling for hours from Texas, from faraway parts in Arizona and by themselves or with other children,” she explained. “So, yes, they’re resilient, but they’re probably in their own way very terrified, so we wanted to make it very comforting for them.
Mentors who speak Spanish are available for the children and in some cases they are immigrants themselves, allowing the children to feel like there is someone who relates to them. During the intake process, the kids are seen by medical personnel, given vaccines and reviewed and diagnosed by a mental health professional.
“I see them as refugees. They left their country because of war, tragic circumstances, plight, poverty and also attacks on them and their family members,” said Solis. “Some were sent, obviously, by themselves to be reunified or at least be able to contact a parent or a relative that lives here in the United States.”
The Supervisor said 80% of the over 500 children they have seen at the Pomona Fairplex have a relative here in the United States.
“In fact, one young girl was reunited with her mother after 8 years, can you imagine that?” she asked.
Almost 300 of the children have been successfully reunified with their family or family members, according to Solis.
“And the children, if you were to see them, you would think they’re normal — just like anyone else, a child that lives here in Los Angeles County. And I’ve been so, so proud of the residents of the county that have embraced them,” she continued.
Solis said residents in the area have been nothing but supportive, donating clothing, food and books.
“I see some inspiring and talented individuals already," she added. "Some have had good schooling in their own countries and some have not but nonetheless, all of them have opportunity and my message to them, and to everyone else is: come in, learn as much as you can, make sure when you get here that you do get a good education and know there are resources available for you through the County of Los Angeles, or wherever your home might be. That we are there to help serve you. We want every child to have the same opportunities that I had. It’s a story of resiliency, regeneration and reinvention.”
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